2023 Star Team awards credit 2 AFRL directorates for innovation

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  • By Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs staff
ARLINGTON, Va. (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, announced the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, or AFOSR, winners of the 2023 Star Team awards Jan. 11, 2023. The Star Team designation, managed by AFOSR, is awarded annually to the top 10% of AFRL Laboratory Tasks performing the most innovative in-house basic research.

“How we [research] science and how we transition the fruits of our research is more critical now than ever in the face of our advanced adversaries,” said Dr. Shery Welsh, director, AFRL/AFOSR. “The future begins with basic research, and one of AFOSR's most critical basic research transition paths is our own Air Force Research Lab and its stellar researchers. Our AFRL Star Team awards represent our most spectacularly brilliant scientists and engineers.”

The Star Team awardees have been focused on AFRL’s increased survivability and lethality through aggressive and extended maneuverability, developing a new class of high-mass ionic liquids to potentially increase thrust and partnerships and computational mathematics to elevate the complexity of physics in vehicle design, Welsh said.

Each year, AFOSR selects Star Teams and awards the winners special funding that spans three years to support basic research projects. The highly competitive selections are not focused on new research proposals but on rewarding exceptional performance in ongoing basic research efforts. The award criteria are research excellence, international stature and Air and Space Force relevance.

The 2023 winners represent two AFRL technical directorates that are at the forefront of innovation.

AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate winners:
- Dr. Philip Beran, "data-rich multi-fidelity methods for aerospace vehicle design"
- Dr. Daniel Garmann, "multidisciplinary computational aerodynamics"
- Dr. Kamran Ghiassi, "designing next-generation ionic liquids for in-space electric propulsion"
- Dr. Stephen Spottswood, "aerothermoelastic experiments and simulation of high-speed vehicle structures"
AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate winners:
- Dr. John Wertz, "data fusion for multi-scale mixed modality microstructure characterization"
- Dr. Philip Buskohl, "interplay of nonlinearity and topological diversity in opto-mechanical reservoir computing "
“We are excited to acknowledge these teams who epitomize our role in the larger [Department of the Air Force] ecosystem,” said Dr. Timothy Bunning, chief technology officer, AFRL. “Teams, working on very difficult problems which underpin some of the long-term needs of the DAF, leveraging and sitting at the cutting edge of the large [Science and Technology] ecosystem is a primary role of the Air Force Research Laboratory.”
While AFRL does fund research, Bunning said the lab’s primary job is to grow future Air Force and Space Force thought leaders who directly interface with industry and academia and government.
“Internally, we recognize these teams as the best-of-the-best, and my kudos to their team members and leadership chains for recognizing and valuing high-quality in-house activities,” Bunning added.
AFRL’s research covers three main areas, or building blocks, in the evolution from scientific discovery to providing critical technologies to the DAF and the nation: basic research, applied research and advanced technology demonstration. AFRL/AFOSR’s management of the basic research portfolio and investment in new science knowledge inside and outside of AFRL is the critical first step on a path to innovation.

This research effort is accomplished by the AFRL workforce of about 11,500 military, civilian and contractor employees, who lead the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace forces.

“AFOSR Star Team recognizes exceptional basic research in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Technical Directorates who actively conduct scientific research on behalf of the DAF,” said Dr. Pat Roach, chief scientist, AFOSR. “[These awards] call out researchers who have demonstrated a world-class scientific or engineering achievement in basic science. The AFOSR Star Team award formally acknowledges that scientific achievement while fostering excellence throughout the Air Force Research Laboratory ecosystem and promotes the critical role of intramural basic research while displaying the power of the DAF's research activities.”
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, or AFOSR, expands the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Department of the Air Force's basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, AFOSR's mission is to discover, shape, champion and transition high-risk basic research that profoundly impacts the future Air and Space Forces. AFOSR accomplishes its mission through global investment in advanced discovery research efforts in relevant scientific areas. Central to AFOSR's strategy is the transfer of the fruits of basic research to industry, the supplier of Department of the Air Force acquisitions; to the academic community, which can lead the way to still more accomplishment; and to the other directorates of AFRL that carry the responsibility for applied research leading to acquisition. Visit Air Force Office of Scientific Research at https://www.afrl.af.mil/AFOSR/.